If the cooperative sugar sector did not improve and brace itself against competition hailing from the private sector it would go belly up warned union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar while addressing the 57th annual meeting of the federation of cooperative sugar factories in Maharashtra.
The minister said sugar cooperatives should professionalize, eschew extravagance and strengthen their creditworthiness. There had been instances where some district central banks had stopped existing as they had lent too much to the sector, remarked the minister.
At least 2.5 million tonnes (mt) of sugar should be exported this season, as this would help the industry improve the domestic sugar market, Pawar said. He says this at a time when India’s carry-forward stock stands at nine mt and production in the 2013-14 season is expected at 25 mt
Most cooperative sugar mills are reeling under heavy financial burden. Maharashtra’s sugar sector accounts for 30 per cent of the national output and contributes about Rs 4,500 crore in taxes to the state and central governments.
According to Mr. Pawar, the partial decontrol of the sugar sector would help farmers, as well as the entire segment. Earlier, Vijaysinh Mohite-Patil, chairman of the Federation of Cooperative Sugar Factories in Maharashtra, called upon the Centre to impose import duty of 30 per cent, instead of the current 15 per cent.